Sermon Summary (5/19/19) “Peter’s Restoration” (John 21:1-19)
We’re continuing our Belief and Hope series. Today Peter. Peter who had denied Jesus three times, who wept bitterly in shame when so doing; Peter who believed he was not worthy, and who had decided to return to his old ways as a fisherman. Peter who had lost hope. Jesus meets him where he finds him and restores him and commissions him to become one of the great leaders of the church
Peter was in a dark place. It happens. It happened to John of the Cross in the 16th Century, to M. Teresa in the last. We become disconnected from God. Our relationship severed. We become like Peter. We say, “I’m going fishing.”
That’s the human condition. That’s the story of the Old Testament. That’s the remedy of the New Testament. Jesus calls us back. It is a story for us.
Remember, Peter has best intentions, “Even though I must die with you, I will never deny you.” But Jesus knows us. “Before the cock crows, you will deny my three times.”
At some point, Peter leaves Jerusalem. There are seven disciples at the Sea of Galilee some weeks after Easter. Peter says, “I am going fishing.” Essentially, I am returning to my old life. Jesus may never show up again! They catch nothing. Their life will be empty. But, but, Jesus is on the seashore. “Put your nets down on the right side of the boat.” There nets are filled, 153 kinds of fish (maybe the known number of species) and their nets do not tear (maybe their commission that all the world is their parish and that not one nation will be lost).
John says (getting one step ahead of Peter), “It is the Lord.” Peter, who was bare chested, puts on his clothes and jumps in the water to see Jesus. “Oh, if he would just forgive me!” After breakfast, Jesus, three times, asks “Peter, do you love me?” Three times, Peter responds, “Yes Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.”
This is a story of the restoration of hope and of commissioning. For us. Like John, we need to connect with Jesus, “It is the Lord.” Two, we need to put Jesus in charge of our daily activities, “Put your nets down on the right side of the boat.” Three, we need to dine with him, “Come and have breakfast.” Four, we need to listen to him, “Feed my sheep.” And lastly, we need to respond, “Follow me.” If the greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself,” we ought to love someone in the name of Christ each and every day. “Feed my sheep.”
It begins with our belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. It continues with our renewal of hope: That the worst thing is never the last thing, and that Easter changes everything. It is reinforced with our understanding that Jesus “has the words to eternal life.” (John 6:68-69) So may it be with all of us. Amen.